ON LOVE; PART MCCCXXIV
FIRST IS THE GREAT COMMANDMENTS: “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31).
WHAT THEN IS LOVE? In a general sense love is benevolence, good will; that disposition of heart which inclines men to think favorably of their fellow men, and to do them good. In a theological sense, it includes supreme love to God, and universal good will to men. While this IS from an older definition of Charity, which IS rendered in the King James Bible from the same Greek word agape which IS generally rendered as Love, we should amend our own definition here to include the idea that in the reality of Love a man will accord to ALL men ALL things that he would accord to himself and to say that Love IS our thoughts and attitude of the equality of ALL men regardless of their outward nature or appearance…that ALL ARE equally children of Our One God.
PLUS THE EVER IMPORTANT AND HIGH IDEAL TAUGHT TO US BY THE CHRIST: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12).
We ended the last essay with some thoughts on the words of the writer of the Book of Hebrews, namely those that tell us that Jesus IS “the author and finisher of our faith“. While the doctrinal church may take these words to show that Christianity IS founded by the Master as the author and IS maintained by believing in Him as Savior, they miss the reality of His words that show us the Truth of righteousness; that it IS NOT imputed simply because of those words that tell us that “Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness” (James 2:23) and that any ‘believer‘ IS then equal. That Abraham believed God IS evident in his story which IS one of KNOWING and not of that nebulous believing that has inflicted itself upon the church from the beginning. And we should understand that while Abraham DID stray from the Path of his own righteousness at times, his overall Life was in tune with the impetus of the Godhead with which he seems to have readily communicated. Abraham KNEW God and it IS in this KNOWING that he communed with the Lord and, as IS True yet today, such communion comes solely as the result of DOING as the Lord directs which IS the message of the Master who tells us that “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). It IS such KNOWING that IS the KEY to True righteousness and, for the Christian, this KNOWING comes in that True Repentance which causes a man to keep His words. The doctrines of men however have taken a perceived short cut to righteousness that flows through their various theological ideas which ARE centered in the singular idea of atonement through the blood of the Christ. This of course ignores the words of “the author and finisher of our faith” who shows us by His words and His example the True Way to righteousness, the True Way to ‘be right with the Lord’. While we use our trifecta of spiritual reality to show the words of the Master which point us toward that righteousness, there ARE many other sayings and parabolic stories that show us the same ideas and we have discussed many of these over the course of our writing. The very idea of righteousness IS misused by the doctrinal thinker, especially one who deems himself to be righteous based upon his taking to himself possession of the ‘rewards‘ and the idea of “free gifts” without finding that KNOWING by which such ARE earned. Yes such people call Jesus Lord and play the part of a religious or spiritual man but when one’s Life impetus IS yet the self and the things of the self there IS a disconnect from the essential Truth that Jesus shows us in that rhetorical question that asks “why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). Jesus addresses the Jews religious leaders and followers when He says “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” and it IS this same message that must be understood by ALL who Truly seek to follow the Lord. In the reality of “their heart is far from me” we should see ALL who ARE NOT “doers of the word“; it IS to these that the apostle says ARE “deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22).
James, while speaking to the Jews as a Jew, IS at the same time speaking to ALL that consider themselves believers and it IS these, in today’s church, that believe themselves to be “born again“. We should try to see here how that such belief IS a part of the vanity that encompasses ALL who ARE born into this world; a vanity by which we ARE caught in: a perishable and decaying condition, separate from God, and pursuing false ends 4. We should try to see here that these false ends ARE Vincent’s way of portraying James’ saying that such that ARE NOT “doers of the word” ARE indeed “deceiving your own selves“. We should remember here that James IS writing to men with a spiritual bent and he IS cautioning them that to have such a focus requires that they become doers and NOT “hearers only“, that a True focus upon the things of God requires that one live in accord with the Master’s words and, here again, we cite His words from our trifecta where He says:
- “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).
- “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
- “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me” (John 14:21-24).
As doctrinal thinkers cubby Jesus’ words into a so called ‘old covenant’ theology, they miss the whole point of His Advent and Life here in this world. Here we should try to see that if Jesus’ words ARE aimed ONLY at the Jews in His day, then where ARE James’ words targeted. The Master ever points us in the right direction and the apostles ever sought to clarify and amplify His message but the church, from the beginning, chose what they perceived as the simpler way that DOES NOT involve True personal commitment to the words of the Master. Why? Most of the doctrinal precepts that evolved from the time of the church fathers ARE bound to the idea that it IS in faith and believing that men are ‘saved‘ and this in the same way that the Jews religious leaders were bound to the idea of sacrifices as the atonement for sins which both believe ARE inevitable. Both have missed the reality of the intent of the law regarding Love, agape, which IS built into the very structure of the law and has been a most misunderstood concept from the beginning. It is this misunderstanding of the True nature of agape as Love that the prophets attempt to correct in their teachings about the relationship between God and man, a relationship that ‘requires’ that men keep the law or pay the sacrificial price for NOT DOING so. And it IS this mentality, a mentality where one accepted the sacrificial price rather than to exert the effort, as a nation or an individual, to keep the law. They forged their interpretations of the law, which DO NOT define in any clear way the message of Love, as they relied heavily upon the role of sacrifice. Again it IS these interpretations of the law that were the focus of the Jews and these ARE also the focus of the Apostle Paul who speaks strongly about men’s following the law into sin. Paul replaces the idea of strictly following the law in all its most mundane parts with the ideas of grace and faith but both of these ARE grossly misunderstood as IS the whole concept of sin which, in the Old Testament, seems related to men’s failures against the specific carnal parts of the mitzvah, the 613 commandments gleaned out of the writings of Moses. It IS the subtler ideas of Love and Right Human Relations that ARE lost and this likely because of the carnal focus of the times and the difficulty in discerning just what a violation of the command “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:18) may be. Perhaps the Jews DID grasp the idea of avenging but the rest ARE purely personal matters of the heart; these precepts can be seen from a positive perspective in the actions of men but the negative ARE easily hidden in the psyche. Matters of the heart however IS NOT the emphasis of the law in Moses day and while the prophets DID try to correct this failure, their words and ideas were NOT accepted; even today the focus upon the prophets’ messages seems limited to their sense of prophecy. Jesus grasps this as He shows us how that our thoughts and attitudes ARE equal to the action, how that lusting after a women IS equal to adultery and how that anger and hate ARE equal to murder. These ARE hard concepts to understand except in the Light of the Great Commandments and we should remember here that Jesus elevates the seemingly obscure words from Leviticus to be the second of the Great Commandments of which there ARE but two. Additionally Jesus’ focus IS NOT upon the ideas of avenging or bearing a grudge, it IS ONLY upon the unifying idea that “thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself“. We should understand also that despite the absence of such ‘virtues’ in the Jews historical record, the very idea that “thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” IS KNOWN by at least some of the religious Jews; this we can see in the response of the scribe to Jesus’ citing the Great Commandments in Mark’s Gospel (Mark 12:29-34) and in the words of “a certain lawyer” in Luke’s Gospel who recites the Great Commandments in response to Jesus’ question that asks “What is written in the law? how readest thou?” (Luke 10:25-28).
We should NOT forget here that in Jesus dialogue with the rich young ruler according to Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus closes out His list of commandments with the seemingly unrelated commandment that “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself“; ALL of His other words ARE in regard to the Ten Commandments that were given to Moses on Mount Sinai. Here, while the man acknowledges that he keeps ALL such commandments “from my youth up” we should note that by the very idea of his reluctance to give up his claim to riches, and the honor and prestige that accompanies such riches, that he IS failing in the reality of this Love. It IS in Jesus’ following words that we find a KEY to realizing the Truth of this idea that “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself“; the Master tells this man the answer to his question asking “what lack I yet?” by saying “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me“(Matthew 19:20, 21). Can we see the point here? Can we see how that one’s focus upon the self IS contrary to the Great Commandments? While the ideas behind the Great Commandment that “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” DID elude the Jews who concentrated upon the more mundane carnal aspects of the law and the clarifying words of the prophets fell upon deaf ears, these Jews believed that they were DOING God’s Will. It IS in this Light that they stood against the words of the Master, of their Messiah, which sought to transform their mundane and carnal views into the reality of agape. It IS in agape that men will understand that to be angry to the point of killing that one IS killing; it IS in agape that men will see how that to speak evil of another, to say to him raca or call him a fool IS also much the same. We should note here that the idea of anger in the King James Bible IS framed as “without a cause” and that this phrasing IS NOT found in most other translations which limit the idea to anger ONLY. Here we should see that killing IS contrary to agape and that anger and speaking evil of another IS also. We should note here as well that the ideas behind raca, an untranslated Chaldean word 9a, and calling another a fool DO have a deeper significance that merely the ideas presented by the various translations and it IS in this context that we frame these ideas as speaking evil. These words from Jesus ARE but the beginning of His sayings from the Sermon on the Mount which reflect the ways of men that ARE contrary to agape; Jesus’ next words in Matthew’s version of His sermon ARE tied to these words on killing, anger and speaking evil and can be seen as explanatory of the whole idea. The Master says “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift“. (Matthew 5:21:24). Here these ideas of killing, anger and speaking evil ARE shown in a reciprocal way which adds the idea that a ‘brother‘ may have such feelings regarding you and in this context we should see that such ideas, in either direction, serve to remove one’s heart from the Lord and focus it upon the mundane and carnal issues between men. While Jesus’ next words appear to be cautionary, they also hold a deeper meaning that IS in relation to the preceding ideas; He tells us to “Agree with thine adversary quickly“. The idea here IS rather complex; the Greek word isthi which IS rendered as agree means to: give thyself wholly to according 9a to Strong’s while Thayer’s relates this word to eimi which IS understood in terms of being and existence 9. Vincent tells us that isthi IS: Lit., be well-minded toward; inclined to satisfy by paying or compromising 4 which idea IS much more interpersonal that agreeing. We should understand that in the idea of adversary, while the connotation IS of a legal nature, there IS broad latitude in properly understanding the idea and here perhaps the best way IS to see this as opposing sides in every disagreement that can cause disharmony between men. The final reality here IS that in order to be practicing the reality of agape that we must detach from our relationships ALL egotistical ideas and attitudes of being right, more right or being better; any such thoughts that can contribute to the our failure to be well-minded toward another and to give thyself wholly to a resolution to any problem.
While the Master’s next words on adultery ARE NOT generally seen in relation to one’s failure in expressing agape, one’s failure to “love thy neighbour as thyself“, there IS a reality here that IS missed. There IS also the more spiritual view related to the first Great Commandment which we should see as turning away from God in pursuit of other gods and here we should understand again the incompatibility between the carnal and the spiritual….the things of God versus the things of the self. In a carnal view adultery IS defined in terms of marriage; this should be understood to cover both parties to the affair and that the greater reality IS that adultery IS an offense against the one committed to, wife, husband, etc. While expressing carnal love toward one’s object of desire, one IS failing in expressing agape for the sake of selfish lust. Here agape requires that one should NOT harm another, one should not harm one’s wife, husband, etc. which adultery DOES in every case regardless of whether the act IS KNOWN by the offended party. What Jesus IS DOING here however takes this much deeper as He shows us that the mere thought of having such an adulterous relationship IS tantamount to having an adulterous relationship and should we extend this to the reality of the first Great Commandment also, we can see how that adultery IS an offence against both. We should see the incompatibility of the carnal and the spiritual again as Jesus continues, telling us that we must cut off the offending ideas, the carnal ideas that lead to adultery as well as the killing, hatred and speaking evil which ARE most always related to men’s desires for the things of the self. Should we think that the Master IS suggesting cutting off a hand or plucking out an eye? While these ARE extreme examples, they DO show the importance of the ideas behind them; they show us that if one IS Truly seeking the Lord he CAN NOT be seeking after the things of the world as well and here we should see the Apostle Paul’s words that we have been discussing. In Paul’s writing we should see these extreme ideas as equivalent of our need to “mortify the deeds of the body“. Both the Master’s words and the apostle’s show us the way to Life verses the spiritual death that accompanies one’s desires and lusts as he continues to “to live after the flesh” which IS to live in the “bondage of corruption“, the bondage of vanity. It should be rather easy to see men’s failure in expressing agape, regardless of one’s religious or spiritual intent, in these ideas of killing, with it affiliated ideas of anger and speaking evil, and adultery and we should remember here the spiritual ideas that lie behind adultery. Jesus continues into the ideas of divorce and oaths and while it IS more difficult to see agape in these, they ARE both contrary to the to the precepts of agape as this IS expressed in the Great Commandments. There IS ever a problem with the way that such ideas as adultery and fornication ARE related ONLY to sex in the doctrinal focus of men. If we could realize the idea that the Master puts forth in His equivalent view of adultery as the ‘thought’ of adultery, we could perhaps see how this expands the meaning of this word beyond sex and into relationships of any kind with whatsoever takes one away from the one he IS committed to; we should remember here that there IS a dual focus, spiritual and carnal, in this word and that there IS an affinity between adultery as a temporary leave and divorce which IS more of a permanent leave. Again, while the context IS seemingly carnal for both of these ideas, there IS an underlying spiritual component for both. And, if we can see that the natural focus of the Soul IS ever the Lord, we can see then how that it IS the ‘flesh‘ that IS adulterous and which seeks his divorce as part of the vanity in which everyman lives. Spiritual adultery and spiritual divorce cut off the ability of a man to focus upon the things of God and here we should see Jesus’ later words from the Sermon saying “Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). In the reality that one CAN NOT DO both at the same time IS the most basic human spiritual problem. Through the inherent sense of vanity into which ALL ARE born combined with the nurturing and indoctrination into the ways of the world that ALL endure, we have a human family that IS largely focused upon the self and the things of the self. Such thinking IS adulterous by nature when we consider that spiritually one’s focus IS to be upon the things of God; this spiritual problem IS exacerbated in the lives of those who believe themselves religious or spiritually focused according to their doctrinal leanings rather than through keeping His words which IS the True KEY to spiritual focus.
The idea of divorce has a similar but more permanent effect on the spiritual Life as IS True in our carnal relationships and here we should NOT be fooled by the idea of fornication, a word that IS rendered and doctrinally understood ONLY in terms of sex. The Greek word porneia which IS rendered as fornication IS the apparent source of the English words related to pornography and this by its reference leaves porneia in the sexual realm. However, the word IS NOT always used in carnal terms and it IS here that we must see its dual nature. Strong’s tells us that porneia means: harlotry (including adultery and incest); figuratively, idolatry:—fornication 4, and here we should understand that while the sexual connotation IS the intent in certain contexts the ‘figurative‘ IS the valid interpretation in others. Still other contexts will offer us the dual view which IS True in these words from the Master who tells us “That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery” (Matthew 5:32). We should note here that even the meanings of the English word ARE in error as the idea IS generally related to illicit sexual intercourse in general 9 which idea then falls into the doctrinal precepts of sex without marriage, a precept the makes most everyman a fornicator. Sex however IS NOT the issue here especially when we can see and understand the dual nature of the idea in its relationship to the dual nature of adultery. The idea of “for the cause of” in Jesus’ words IS from the Greek word logos, the same word that IS rendered as word or in ideas representing speech in most ALL of its appearances in the New Testament 2a. This basic idea IS most always rendered in terms of “sexual immorality” and these particular words ARE used in several translations. Other renderings include unfaithfulness, unchastity, lewdness and whoredom with logos being rendered in terms of the cause for seeking divorce. Strong’s tells us that logos has a broad range of meanings and, when related to the Lord, they offer the idea of His Divine Expression (i.e. Christ)9a which idea comes from John’s use of the word in the prologue to his Gospel were he tells us that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Our point here IS that the rendering of logos into ideas of cause IS at best arbitrary, an idea that seems to be admitted in Thayer’s lengthy article on the word logos 9. If we take the more spiritual ideas from ALL the Master’s words here, we can perhaps see the duality with which His words ARE presented. On the carnal side fornication IS cause for divorce while on the spiritual side there IS the idea of idolatry, of one’s placing their focus upon things other than the Lord. Can we see how that Jesus’ idea here can be understood in terms of a wife whose Life IS contrary to the spiritual Truth that her husband has embraced and the turmoil that such a relationship can cause? We should remember the role of women in those days and in this better understand why Jesus words seem one-sided….He IS speaking to men who understand a Life where women ARE subservient to men in the public square. Should we take away the cultural ideas of the times, we can then perhaps see that these ideas can be reversed in the Life of the wife who IS spiritually awakened but has a yet idolatrous husband. Can we see the point here? Can we see how that these words can be understood in spiritual terms as well as carnal and that while there IS a carnal message for the carnal thinker, there IS an ever greater spiritual import? While the Master addresses adultery from the perspective of a male dominated society and He addresses fornication from the perspective of the female’s role in divorce, we should understand that this IS based in the cultural ways of those to whom the Master IS speaking. It IS in a deeper reading of His words that we can see that these ideas cross the gender line and apply equally to both; it IS ONLY in this way that Jesus sayings on Love can be rightly understood.
Our purpose here in this section of the Master’s Sermon on the Mount IS to show the intimate relationship that ALL of His words have with the message of agape. From His words on killing to his words on divorce we should be able to see how that such carnal behaviors ARE contrary to the Great Commandments and we should also be able to discern the spiritual message incorporated into what Jesus shows us as equivalent ideas; anger and killing, adultery and thoughts of lust, etc.. In these ideas we can easily see His message that it IS “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34) if we can understand how that the heart, the very consciousness of a man, IS ordered by either one’s focus upon God or one’s focus upon the self. The latter IS of course contrary to the Truth of Love that IS the second of the Great Commandments while the former self view IS contrary to both. We should try to see and to understand that the spiritual perspective holds that ALL that takes one’s attention onto the self and the things of the self, one’s idols if you will, IS fornication spiritually understood and in this context fornication and adultery ARE synonymous ideas that can and DO result in a spiritual divorce through which one’s sense of focus remains stuck on the self. Again adultery IS a less permanent view of one’s focus on the self and here we should try to see that such temporary excursions into carnality ARE in reality the state of everyman whose heart IS still ‘open’ to the prompting of his own Soul and here we should see both the religious and the irreligious. This state of adultery that IS founded in men’s vanity, in their “bondage of corruption” and it IS this that must be escaped according to Peter’s words saying “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4). This brings us back again to the Apostle Paul’s words that we have been discussing; in these ideas above we should be able to more clearly see that the carnal aspects of these ideas ARE the activities of the man who has NOT been able to “mortify the deeds of the body” while the spiritual aspects ARE the source of men’s separation from the Truth through their focus upon the self even without such carnal activities. Repeating Paul’s words we read:
“they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in
hope, Becauseexpectation that the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:5:23).
In Paul’s words here we should be able to see how that the contrast he draws between those that “do mind the things of the flesh” and those whose attention IS on “the things of the Spirit” IS one that defines a man as one who IS spiritual or one who IS carnal. We should understand here that there IS a given amount of crossover regarding one’s focus and it IS this that we should see in Jesus’ words on fornication and adultery. We should try to see here how that this crossover IS a reality in the Life of everyman until such time as he IS Truly able to “mortify the deeds of the body” and enter into that Life which IS the True reward of ALL who DO keep His words. It IS the middle ground in which we should see our hope of eventually being able achieve this sense of mortifying the flesh and we should try to see how that this middle ground IS that place, that psychic place, where “he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:6-8).
We will continue with our thoughts in the next post.
- 2a New Testament Hebrew Lexicon on BibleStudyTools.com
- 4 Word Studies in the New Testament; Marvin R Vincent D.D. 2nd edition
- 9 Thayer’s Greek Lexicon on blueletterbible.org
- 9a The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible on blueletterbible.org
- * Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
- ** A Treatise on Cosmic Fire by Alice A Bailey © 1951 by Lucis Trust
- *** Wikipedia contributors. “Orion (constellation).” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 17 Nov. 2019. Web. 25 Nov. 2019
- *** Wikipedia contributors. “Mazzaroth.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 12 Aug. 2018. Web. 25 Nov. 2019.
Those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road.
Voltaire, Writer and Philosopher